Churches must face up to global change, says WCC moderator

By agency reporter
August 27, 2009

In his moderator’s address at the start of the World Council of Churches central committee meeting in Geneva on 26 August 2009, the Rev Dr Walter Altmann said that the WCC – as well as the world at large – stands “at a crossroads in the present”.

Altmann touched on a variety of events marking milestones this year and next, including the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin, the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the forthcoming centennial of the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh.

He tied those episodes to some challenges of the present, including the shift of Christianity’s “centre of gravity” to the global south, the need for the WCC’s constituency to be more representative, the problems of poverty and “climate injustice” and the openness to change required for radical discipleship.

“Our reality is very complex and multi-layered”, said Altmann, president of the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil and moderator of the WCC central committee since 2006. He said the current time may offer a “particular opportunity” to respond creatively to the need for inspiring vision, one that addresses the realities of the day and the journey ahead.

“The new framework of the ecumenical landscape is in front of our eyes, being experienced in the daily lives of our churches and their relationships and networks,” Altmann said, “but yet we still seem not able to describe and/or define it”.

He named three decisions to be made at these meetings that would hold “particular importance for the life of the WCC” as it goes forward: the election of a new General Secretary, the location for the next WCC Assembly, to be held in 2013 and directions related to the report of the working group on governance, accountability, and staff policy.

“It is not our cause which is at stake, but God’s plan”, he said.

The full text of the report by Walter Altmann can be found here:

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